Dr. Christie M. Poitra, Academic Specialist—Outreach & Research
I am deeply committed to community and school capacity building, and issues of diversity and equity in education. I have unique skill sets in the areas of Indigenous education, community outreach, and K-12 school leadership. I was an elementary teacher at a reservation public school. I have also worked in a number of tribal, university, K-12 school, district, non-profit and foundation settings on educational issues and the needs of diverse learners. I hold a PhD in Educational Policy from the Michigan State University College of Education. I received my Bachelor of Arts degree in Legal Studies from UC Berkeley, and my Master of Arts degree in American Indian Studies from UCLA.
Judith Pierzynowski—Student Research Assistant
My name is Biindaabiinkwe; it means the first light of day woman. My English name is Judith Pierzynowski. I am the Student Research Assistant for the Native American Institute, and a senior in the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources. I am crane clan and a member of Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians located in Harbor Springs, Michigan. I have been involved in Native country all of my life. My family attends pow-wows and I have served on several pow-wow committees in the past. I volunteered at the Lansing Pow Wow and was on the pow wow committee. I was a dance judge and head cook for the SEMII, South Eastern Michigan Indian Inc., pow wow. I helped start the first MSU pow wow, and volunteered in various capacities and served on the pow wow committee for the Riverbank pow wow for several years. I was the head woman dancer for several years. I currently serve on the Housing Commission of my tribe. I also served on the Gaming Board of Directors of the Odawa Casino Resort for 10 years. Other boards I have served on are the Executive Board of the Nokomis Learning Center, the Executive Board and Election Board of AFSCME Local Union 1585, Women’s Advisory Council for Finance Personnel and Operations as the employee representative, Board of the Lansing North American Indian Center, member of North American Indian Student Organization at MSU, member of EAGLE which is the Native American faculty and staff organization at MSU and was a precinct delegate for the city of East Lansing.